Faculty

Jennifer Balkus

Assistant Professor, Epidemiology

206-616-6614
jbalkus@uw.edu

Education

PhD Epidemiology, University of Washington, 2012
MPH Epidemiology, University of Washington, 2005
BA Women Studies, Wesleyan University, 2000

Contact

206-616-6614
jbalkus@uw.edu

Box 357236
Department of Epidemiology
Health Sciences Building, F-261E
Seattle, WA 98195

Bio

Dr. Balkus is an infectious disease epidemiologist whose research spans across the fields of sexual and reproductive health with a specific focus on questions that interface between the vaginal microbiome and STI & HIV prevention among both pregnant and non-pregnant people. Dr. Balkus is passionate about improving genital health for all people with a vagina and has contributed to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention STD guidelines for the treatment of bacterial vaginosis.  She has expertise in conducting both clinical trials and observational studies, in the US and globally, and currently leads two NIH R01-supported research projects. The first is evaluating the relationship between vaginal bacterial and susceptibility to Chlamydia trachomatis infection among a cohort of cisgender women in Kenya. The second project is assessing opportunities to improve STI testing and treatment to reduce STI recurrence among a cohort of cisgender adolescent girls and young women in South Africa. Dr. Balkus is also an Affiliate Investigator at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center where she is an investigator with the Microbicide Trials Network (MTN) and the Infectious Disease Clinical Research  Consortium (IDCRC). She serves on protocol teams for two ongoing MTN trials that are assessing the safety of the dapivirine vaginal ring in pregnant and postpartum breastfeeding individuals and an upcoming IDCRC trial assessing the SARS-CoV-2 immune response among pregnant individuals who receive different vaccine platforms during pregnancy. In addition to her research, Dr. Balkus teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses in the School of Public Health and serves as the faculty co-chair or the Department of Epidemiology’s Equity and Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

Research Interests

  • Vaginal microbiome
  • STI prevention
  • HIV risk prediction
  • Hormonal contraception
  • Women
  • Africa

Recent Publications (PubMed)

Erasure and health equity implications of using binary male/female categories in sexual health research and HIV/STI surveillance: recommendations for transgender-inclusive data collection and reporting.
(2021 Aug 16)
Sex Transm Dis
Tordoff DM, Minalga B, Gross BB, Martin A, Caracciolo B, Barbee LA, Balkus JE, Khosropour CM

Clustering of subpatent infections in households with asymptomatic rapid diagnostic test-positive cases in Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea independent of travel to regions of higher malaria endemicity: a cross-sectional study.
(2021 Jul 12)
Malar J 20(1): 313
Hergott DEB, Balkus JE, García GA, Cruz KR, Seilie AM, Masters H, Aveika AA, Iyanga MM, Mba Eyono JN, Guthrie BL, Murphy SC

Prevalent HPV infection increases the risk of HIV acquisition in African women: advancing the argument for HPV immunization.
(2021 Jun 24)
AIDS
Liu G, Mugo NR, Brown ER, Mgodi NM, Chirenje ZM, Marrazzo JM, Winer RL, Mansoor L, Palanee-Phillips T, Siva SS, Naidoo L, Jeenarain N, Gaffoor Z, Nair GL, Selepe P, Nakabiito C, Mkhize B, Mirembe BG, Taljaard M, Panchia R, Baeten JM, Balkus JE, Hladik F, Celum CL, Barnabas RV

Assessing pregnancy and neonatal outcomes in Malawi, South Africa, Uganda, and Zimbabwe: Results from a systematic chart review.
(2021)
PLoS One 16(3): e0248423
Balkus JE, Neradilek M, Fairlie L, Makanani B, Mgodi N, Mhlanga F, Nakabiito C, Mayo A, Harrell T, Piper J, Bunge KE, MTN-042B Study Team.

Likely clinical depression and HIV-related decline in antiretroviral therapy untreated women who seroconverted during participation in microbicide trials in sub-Saharan Africa.
(2021 Jun)
Int J STD AIDS 32(7): 620-628
Rael CT, Roberts S, Ibitoye M, Gorbach PM, Palanee-Phillips T, Harkoo I, Mbilizi Y, Panchia R, Siva S, Tembo T, Agwau Akello C, Balkus J, Riddler S, Carballo-Diéguez A

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